Apr 11, 2016

News: Financial Liabilities That Face Smoking Tenants in Japan

Here at City-Cost, we’re all about the cost of living in Japan. So, when we were patrolling the netwaves this morning in search of news that wasn’t related to the G7 summit, we were as pleased as punch to find this finance related, daily-life ish nugget over at livedoor NEWS,

タバコを吸う人吸わない人、退去時にかかるお金はどう違う?, reads the Tweet.

In translation; What’s the difference in ‘leaving fee’ for smokers and nonsmokers?

Leaving fee’ here, refers to any costs incurred by a departing tenant due to the state of the room/housing/space that they are leaving. Natural wear and tear over time, may not come into this, but from the article, any damage caused by the smoker may well do.

The article is reportage of an interview with Tani Shouko-san (谷尚子さん) at 株式会社ハウスメイトパートナーズ / House Mate Partners. Our translation may be rough and is not intended to be, or anywhere close to, word for word. We hope, however, that it might serve as a useful resource for those of you hunting for apartments in Japan. See the original piece here

The effects of smoking (on a property) are compared in the piece to that of a scratch on the walling, unfavorably. Whilst a little scratch can be repaired and the state of the wall brought back to normal, smoke gets everywhere and it’s not unusual for a whole room space to need upholstering.  

To replace 1m² of ‘walling’ ~ 1,000 - 1,300 yen. Taking a typical living room wall at 10m² and calculating that at 4 surfaces (including the ceiling - in Japan the 4th wall is probably a sliding door, or just doesn’t exist at all), the total cost of a living room might be 40,000 - 50,000 yen.  

Continuing; In guidelines laid out by the Ministry of Land, Infrastructure, and Transport, taking the example of the wall, the period in which tenants are likely liable for damages declines over a 6-year period, generally (the theory being that after 6 years all fixtures, fittings e.t.c have lost their value). So, that the longer one stays in a rental property, the less their accountability for damages over time. The trouble period is really the 1-2 years.  

For example, in the case of a 3-year stay, the value of the walling will have decreased by 50%. With smoking taken as the prime cause for wear and tear, going back to that same 40m² living room, the tenant could be liable for 20,000 - 25,000 yen. Then there’s possibility of payment for the cleaning of stained fixtures and fittings. According to the guidelines from the Ministry of Land, Infrastructure, and Transport, this responsibility should be made out in clear writing. That said, it can sometimes be difficult assign blame/burden to, say, lingering cigarette smells, as there is no visible evidence to cite.

Staying on smells left behind by the smoker. Such smells can be difficult to remove, sometimes requiring the building management or owner to return time after time to try and deodorize the space. This may prove ineffective, and depending on the extent of the odour, professionals may need to be brought in. Taking all this into consideration, such cost may amount to 50,000 yen.

The question of who bears the burden for this cost. Well, generally it lies with the tenant. However, people take to (or not) smells in different ways, and it can be difficult to quantify a smell, and thus divide up financial responsibility. There are no guidelines in place for this and as such, these things are usually resolved on a case by case basis.  

People who smoke on a daily basis, are not likely to notice rooms smelling of smoke. It’s then sometimes the case that such tenants have trouble understanding why some of their deposit is not being returned. For some building owners, one such experience of this can be enough for them to stop leasing property to smokers, and this has put that demographic at a certain disadvantage when trying to rent property.

There are steps the smoker can take to relieve this somewhat; taking more responsibility for cleaning the space before they leave can create a good impression. Also, a few weeks before moving out, refrain from smoking indoors and deodorise the property on a daily basis until moving out ...

We’ll cut our interest in the piece here. We hope it’s given some idea of the kinds of costs a smoker may incur when leaving a rented property in Japan, and the steps they can take to help prevent putting other smokers at a disadvantage when looking for a place to live. 

And if we might just add our own piece of advice; perhaps just stick to smoking on the balcony.

Twitter: City_Cost_Japan


Image: Evan Blaser Flickr License

Source: livedoor NEWS



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